Chapter 36 is “Italian Inn: When Heresy Became Heritage.” When the Italian Inn opened in 1953, a hand-painted sign in front of the restaurant read, “No hamburgers, no bar-b-q, just real good spaghetti.” Imagine! No hamburger. No barbecue. Deep in the heart of Texas. In Cowtown! You can almost see passing motorists slow to read that sign and sputter, “But . . .but . . .” You can almost hear those motorists reading, “No hamburgers, no bar-b-q” and then muttering, “Kids, get the noose out of the trunk.”
Chapter 35 is “Poly Pop: A Toast to the Ghost of Paul Hollis.” Being first sometimes means being forgotten. And so it was with Paul Stevens Hollis, who in 1922 invented the world’s first powdered soft drink mix. In a 1907 vintage house that still stands across the street from Polytechnic High School on the East Side, Hollis formulated his recipe for success: citric acid, certified color, caffeine and artificial flavor. Just add sugar and water and stir with entrepreneurial zeal.
Chapter 34 is “Radio Active: There’s No Place Like Ohm.” When you drive past the little house at 3219 Avenue L in Poly, if you roll down your car window and turn up the volume of your imagination, you might hear the music of Bob Wills. Or the deejay patter of Mark Stevens, or the modulated enunciation of newsman Porter Randall.
Chapter 33 is “Max Mehl: The Midas of Pocket Change.” Some of his fellow numismatists considered him to be the P. T. Barnum of coin collecting. But they also admitted that at a time when coin collecting was a hobby of the well-to-do, Benjamin Maximillian Mehl (1884–1957) did more than anyone else to make coin collecting popular among average Americans.
Chapter 32 is “Randol Mill: Wheels of Progress.” In 1856 Archibald Leonard built a three-story gristmill just west of where Precinct Line Road today crosses the river north of Randol Mill Road. The mill became a center for trade and politics, a community center and voting place. A large oak tree beside the mill was said to have been used for at least two lynchings. In 1876 Robert Andrew Randol bought the mill. The small community of Randol Mill grew up around the mill. The community had a post office. Robert Randol was postmaster. The community also had a school. The school and the mill closed in 1916. Robert Randol died in 1922.
Chapter 31 is “Sanger Brothers: “Forward with Texas Since 1857.” Soon after the Texas & Pacific Railroad reached Fort Worth in 1876, the Sanger brothers opened a dry goods store at 14 Houston Street under the management of A. Mandlebaum. “Manufacturers of Clothing, Wholesale and Retail Dealers in Dry Goods, Clothing, Boots, Shoes, Hats, Notions,” their ad in the 1877 city directory read.
Chapter 30 is “Four Oaks: When History Grew on Trees.” At least four live oak trees in Fort Worth could tell a story of long ago. For example, just off Samuels Avenue, a majestic live oak bends low to the ground, as if weary. It’s entitled to feel weary. It’s Traders Oak, and it is Fort Worth’s family tree—been here since day one. Even before day one. In fact, Traders Oak probably was already middle-aged in 1849, when two traders, Henry Clay Daggett and Archibald Leonard, arrived at the army’s new Fort Worth.
Chapter 29 is “The Eitelmans: Men of Steel.” The people who built Fort Worth in the nineteenth century built it by hand, without the aid of nail guns, power drills, cement mixers, computer-aided design, bulldozers, cranes, or forklifts. Tools ran on muscle (human or horse), not on electricity, air, or gasoline. Men—and women—used tools that had not changed in decades, even centuries. One of those men was blacksmith George Eitelman.
Chapter 28 is “Stockyards and Packing Plants: ‘Chicago of the Southwest.’” Several developments stimulated the economy of Fort Worth during its first century, beginning with the establishment of the army fort itself, of course. Then came the cattle drives, the railroads, the stockyards and packing plants, the oil boom, and the Bomber Plant. Of these developments, today the stockyards and packing plants are the most tangible, the most accessible.
Chapter 27 is “Crystal Springs: Where the Music Flowed.” Eighty years ago out on White Settlement Road you could hear a fiddle, a banjo, a piano, the voice of Milton Brown, and a few hundred people trying to forget the Great Depression one two-step at a time. Some even say the place was the cradle of western swing music. That was Crystal Springs Dance Pavilion.
Chapter 26 is “The Nat: Home of the Electric Bath.” To residents of Fort Worth in 1890, Fort Worth’s Nat—short for “Natatorium” (from natare, Latin for “swim”)—offered much more than an indoor swimming pool.
Chapter 25 is “The Opera House: Culture Arrives by Stage.” It was built for a whopping $55,000—just over $1 million in 1883 dollars. It was opulent. It was state of the art. It was going to bring culture to Cowtown. (Newspaper ad is from 1884.)
Chapter 23 is “Spring Palace Exhibition: A Blaze of Glory.” In 1889 Fort Worth wanted to show the world that Cowtown had become more cosmopolitan than cowsmopolitan. So city leaders produced the Texas Spring Palace exhibition and invited each county in the state to display its natural resources, art, crops, and products in the three-block-wide building.
Chapter 22 is “Jacksboro Highway: Highway to Hell.” For much of America, the 1950s were a time of “I Like Ike” and “We Like Short Shorts” and “I Love Lucy.” But out on Jacksboro Highway, the boys in the back rooms liked gambling, they liked prostitution, and they loved cops who looked the other way.
Chapter 21 is “Hell’s Half Acre: Sodom on the Trinity.” Hell’s Half Acre—and its location—began as a logical response to the cattle drives on the Chisholm Trail during the 1870s. All that beef on the hoof and all that testosterone on the saddle entered Fort Worth from the south. Vice was waiting right there on Cowtown’s back porch to greet the boys with a deck of cards, a bottle of whiskey, and a perfumed wink.
Chapter 20 is “White Elephant Saloon: Belly Up to the Forty-Foot Bar.” The White Elephant is remembered mostly for the Short-Courtright shootout in 1887, but it also was “the most gorgeously gotten-up affair of the kind in the state.”
Chapter 19 is “St. Elmo Hotel: At the Corner of ‘What’ and ‘If .’” In 1892 Dr. Henry Howard Holmes (born “Herman W. Mudgett”) built a hotel in Chicago. In 1894 Dr. Holmes, who has been called America’s first serial killer, built a second hotel—this one in Fort Worth at the corner of Commerce and 2nd streets.
Chapter 17 is “Texas Brewing Company: Very Near Beer.” In 1890 Jesse Shelton Zane-Cetti and three other entrepreneurs built the Texas Brewing Company. The plant was located on the edge of Hell’s Half Acre, thereby ensuring an indigenous clientele. By 1907 the brewery claimed to be the biggest in the state, with a capacity of 250,000 barrels a year.
Chapter 15 is “St. Joseph Hospital: Tycoons, Engineers, and Sisters of Charity.” St. Joseph Hospital was Fort Worth’s first hospital. The Missouri Pacific Railroad founded the hospital in 1883, about two years after the railroad began serving Fort Worth.
Chapter 14 is “First Baptist Church: Limelight and Brimstone.” Early in the twentieth century, when Texas was a Baptist bastion, First Baptist Church was a turreted stone fortress of fundamentalism, and its pastor, J. Frank Norris, was the most prominent man of God in the South. Norris was part preacher, part P. T. Barnum; his church was part sanctuary, part circus.
Chapter 13 is “Fort Worth High: First Home of the Purple and White.” One of Fort Worth’s most beautiful public buildings early in the twentieth century was Fort Worth High School, a veritable castle of education. (That’s it on the cover of Lost Fort Worth.)
Chapter 12 is “Fort Worth University: Why ‘College Avenue’?” Often we don’t stop to wonder how streets got their name. Take, for example, College Avenue, which stretches from Vickery Boulevard south to Felix Street but doesn’t come close to so much as a barber college. Ah, but for twenty-five years it did. The intersection of College Avenue and Cannon Street was the location of the ten-acre campus of Fort Worth University. Image is from an ad in the 1902 city directory.
Chapter 11 is “Quality Hill: Cattle Barons and Bankers.” After Samuels Avenue in the late nineteenth century, Fort Worth’s next enclave of the wealthy in the early twentieth century was Quality Hill, where men who made their fortunes in cattle, cotton, oil, and banking built their mansions. Shown are three of the smaller homes that survive on 8th Avenue at Pennsylvania Avenue.
Chapter 10 is “Samuels Avenue: First and, for a While, Foremost.” Members of Fort Worth’s first wave of wealthy built their fine homes along Samuels Avenue. Most of the fine homes, like the people and the fortunes they made and the power they wielded, are gone. Bird’s-eye-view map of 1886 shows the Driving Park, the pavilion, Frankie Brown’s bordello, and the fine homes along Samuels Avenue.
Chapter 9 is “Just Call Cowtown ‘Ford Worth.’” For a brief time early in the auto age, Cowtown had the shake, rattle, and roll of a Dixie Detroit. Between 1916 and 1924, Fort Worth had three auto plants: Ford, Chevy, and Texan.
Chapter 8 is “M&O Subway: Cowtown Underground.” Most people think of subway lines as mass transit of the big East and West Coast cities. But for thirty-nine years, Fort Worth had a subway line, albeit a short one.
Chapter 7 is “Trolley Parks: Day-Trippers’ Delight.” To increase ridership, streetcar companies and the interurban built “trolley parks” on their lines. These parks were the Six Flags Over Texases and Disney Worlds of their day. They were popular destinations for families, lodges, unions, companies, and public school classes. (Headline from February 22, 1906 Telegram mentions three trolley parks.)
Chapter 6 is “Streetcars and the Interurban: “All Aboard.” Today, when most adult Texans drive automobiles and mass transit begs for riders, it’s hard to believe that the word “cars” once meant the rolling stock of a streetcar line and that streetcars and the interurban—the intercity streetcar service—once enjoyed heavy patronage. Header shows the motto on the side of the interurban car on display at the Intermodal Transportation Center.
Chapter 5 is “Railroads: Along Came a Spider.” Fort Worth’s early days as a billowing, bellowing railroad center brought the town some of its wildest and wooliest characters, including the double-dipping Burrow gang and the ambushers at the Battle of Buttermilk Junction. (Engraving from the 1878 city directory.)
Chapter 4 is “Helium Plant: Now This Was a Filling Station.” On Blue Mound Road east of Meacham Field, behind a tall security fence, sit the abandoned buildings of the world’s first helium plant, which the Navy operated to fill its airships (such as the USS Los Angeles) during the 1920s.
Chapter 3 is “Camp Taliaferro: The Wild Blue Yonder.” When World War I began, the federal government built three fields to train cadets in the new military science of aerial warfare. The three fields were Hicks at Saginaw, Barron at Everman, and Carruthers at Benbrook, collectively known as “Camp Taliaferro.”
Chapter 2 is “Camp Bowie: Call It ‘Camp Quick.’” On April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany. On August 24—just eighteen weeks later—sprawling Camp Bowie opened officially in Arlington Heights.
Chapter 1 is “The Fort: Where the West Began.” This bas-relief plaque at the site of the Army’s Fort Worth (at the corner of Belknap and Houston) is a snapshot of life at the fort between 1849 and 1853.